It has been almost one year since my grandmother passed away. While I think of her daily, my fondest memories of her have been on the forefront of my mind over the last several days. If you have been fortunate enough to have experienced the love of a grandmother, then you understand how difficult it is to lose one.
When the initial diagnosis of early dementia was given several years ago, I was less than surprised. I was one of the first to have noticed the subtle changes in her memory over the years. I would find several cups filled with coffee all over the house or she would forget about something we had spoken about early that morning. The alarm went off in me instantly and unfortunately, my suspicions were correct. I remember those first subtleties back in 2004. By the year 2016, she no longer knew who anyone was, including herself. She could no longer feed, clothe, bathe herself, or use the restroom on her own. I cannot tell you that her disease affected me in the way that it affected my father and his siblings. Most of them had to watch closely as their mother slowly deteriorated. She was extremely fortunate to have been well taken care of until her last breath. She was very loved. By the time I had reached the age of 27, I was living 700 miles away and was lucky to see her once a year. The last time my grandmother knew who I was (or at least seemed to) was in 2012. After that, it seemed that all memory of me had vanished. I had to learn how to say my goodbyes before she was physically gone. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.
The Love of a Grandmother is Truly Special.
We all have that stereotypical vision in our minds of that awesome grandma……. you know, the one that bakes cookies with you and takes you to the movies. You hear stories of kids who went to spend portions of their summer breaks with their grandparents and had a blast. While much of my life has been anything but the norm, I had the privilege of having that exact kind of relationship with my grandmother growing up. Rolling out dough to make cookies, watching Disney movies, and looking through old photo albums are just some of the many memories that I cherish.
A Grandmother Provides Wisdom
I made a pretty big change in my life last year because of something that my grandmother had said to me over and over in my teenage years. As a thirty something returning to college, I thought that I had selected the right path to go down when it came selecting a major. Over the years, I had developed a passion for nutrition and had decided that I wanted to become a Registered Dietitian. After taking the necessary courses for a few semesters, I began to feel unsettled. The degree was becoming increasingly difficult to complete and while I still loved everything about nutrition, I couldn’t ignore the unsettling feeling in my gut. Over and over, I heard my grandmother’s voice as she would say to me “you need to always use the talents that God gave you.” With that inspiration, I transitioned into the Journalism Department at my local university, and have started to use my love for writing and creating with a degree in Public Relations. I love the curriculum, and the writing has filled my soul in ways that nothing else had. Grandmothers have a special way of knowing what’s best, I suppose, even when they are no longer with us.
Grandmothers Are Patient
While I wouldn’t have described myself as being a problem child, my grandmother was always patient with me when it came to discipline. I do not have any memories of her ever yelling or raising her voice at me. When I was about 7 or so, I remember purposely throwing something at my cousin’s head (don’t worry, it was soft, and he wasn’t hurt….ha). She calmly approached me and said “Now Blythe, why would you do that? Please go into the back bedroom for a time out.” I am pretty sure I still began to cry – mainly because I was sad that I had disappointed her! She never made me feel small or insignificant.
Memories Are A Gift
I am grateful for the memories that I have of my grandmother. Since she has been gone, I have often asked her to give me inspiration on any given thing that I may be struggling with. If you still have your grandmother, hug her tight. If your grandmother has passed, cherish the memories. The relationship with a grandmother is something truly special.